Monday, August 25, 2014

Hangin Out

 Cirrus and Sal decided to help me pick the grapes off the vines to use for dyeing some yarn.  They didn't eat too many.

It is so nice that the sheep and geese are working things out.  It looks like Gretta and Cirrus are best buddies in the picture below.

The sheep still don't like the geese to come into the barn when they are resting and the geese seem to respect that.

The geese have their pen and little house to rest in.  John says he saw one of the sheep checking out the pen the other day.

The fiber campers love the sheep and are fond of the addition of geese to the farm.  Everyone misses the chickens.  It seems like you can't find a free range farm that hasn't had a heavy loss of chickens recently.

I do want to get chickens again.  I wonder what Cirrus and Sal will say to that.  I have been thinking that when I schedule some workshops for the fall,  I should have the charge be $30.00 or 3 chickens-- kind of like the canned goods for the food bank for admission that some events have.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

August Rain and Rambling

It is raining AGAIN.  We have had rain everyday since, I don't know when, BUT it isn't constant rain, more like Denver Colorado where it rains every afternoon or evening.  Scattered T-storms.  The other evening we were sitting on the front porch watching the lightning outline big puffy clouds.  What a light show.  Brilliant!  Most of July was pretty dry so I am glad to have the rain.

Unfortunately, with my short term memory shortfall, I forget to put my van windows up and close the two windows in the house that are notorious for flooding the floors.  The barn isn't too bad, no one is complaining.  I remember when the barn used to flood badly.  That was before the gravel drainage pit was put in above the barn.

 I was just out mowing a small area behind the garage/barn where the sheep usually do the job.  It has been off limits for awhile because we had to remove a piece of the fence.  As I was finishing that area, the wind came up and it started to get dark so I decided that was enough and pulled into the garage/barn.  I was going to mow the lower upper field.  I am glad I picked the smaller closer area, otherwise, I would have been drenched.

I was down at the community festival earlier and someone  asked me how the pastures were this summer with the lack of rain.  We had some brown brittle grass in spots up near the house in July, but the pastures were good, do to dew (ha ha) and fog, I guess, and rotational grazing.

When it comes to rain, timing is everything.  We had a full week of fiber camp this week with the daily rain not really being an issue.  A couple of the days, it rained after 3 and when it did rain during camp it was still O.K. because it was on and off.  The kids love when it rains so they don't have to use the rain water fed sink water, in the fiber shed, sparingly.

I almost had a fleece dry on the rack a few days ago but then it keeps raining and re-rinseing,  I can't wait to see how soft the fleece is when it finally does dry.

With 467 posts and a short term memory shortfall, I never know what to title the blogs. Rain is probably in the title of a few, I know August is in one or a few, and rambling, probably many, so I titled this one, August Rain and Rambling and the titles of subsequent blogs will probably be longer.

Pictures of August Fiber Camp coming soon.

Sunday, August 17, 2014


Tomorrow, is the first day of the last week of Fiber Camp for this summer.  While cleaning the fiber shed, I was rewarded by a special radio interview with Paulo Coelho.  He is one of my favorite authors.  For those who don't know him, he wrote The Alchemist and several other books and writes a column in the "Intelligent Optimist"(formally "Ode") magazine.

It was a great interview, and I don't think coincidental.  Today is Wednesday's birthday.  I think of Wednesday when I think of Coelho.  Paulo, in the interview, was talking about how when he wakes up in the morning he doesn't know what the day will bring and he looks forward to the opportunities that may unfold and the people he may meet.  I feel that way every morning as well, and I imagine Wednesday did too.

Probably his most notable quote is

"when you really want something, the whole universe conspires in helping you to achieve it"

I heard an old interview with another person who I admired greatly, a few days ago.  I was tremendously saddened by the death of Robin Williams, last week.  The quote, that stood out through all the gibberish in the interview, for me, was "Life isn't for everyone."

  I think you can learn a lot more about someone listening to them being interviewed, than reading a bio.  You can feel who the person is by listening to their voice as well as the words they say.

I think I will begin interviewing the animals who live here at Cabin Spring Farm.  And I think I shall begin with Zora.  She doesn't seem herself lately.

Maybe I will interview the campers this week too.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Nearing the End of Summer

 THIS is who I share my fiber shed with.  I can't get over how big insects and spiders are in Virginia.  At least the snakes and mice have spent the summer outside for the most part.

I am not even sure what this one is -- all I know is it is big.  I think this is one of the flies that occasionally bother the sheep.  Anyway, it is time to move them out so we can have fiber camp next week.

It seems like autumn is coming early this year.  It is mid August and we have not had our air conditioner on since sometime in July.  The only really hot weather I can remember this summer was the last time we had fiber camp in June.  It will probably get hot again next week.

Robbie's garden down the road is mostly harvested and I picked most of the concord grapes in my dyer's garden a few days ago.  I made a wonderful grape pie and some grape jam.  The pie was so beautiful!  Why is it that I take pictures of these guys in the fiber shed and not of the beautiful concord grape pie?  I will use some of the grapes to dye some yarn.  I have some blueberries to dye with too.  I like dyeing with berries but I also have some leaves I want to dye with and of course some wonderful end- of- the- summer flowers.  A great project for the weekend.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Drama is Over

At least for today.  It was a quiet day at Cabin Spring Farm.  This morning I let the geese out of their pen but left them in their run area because I was walking with friends.  As I was getting ready to leave, Sal flew over the run fence.  I quickly put her back in and went off thinking, it won't be long before she flies over when I am not around.  I came home from walking and she was out again.

Cirrus has not gotten out without me letting him out--yet.  When I changed my shoes and went down to the barnyard to see how things were going, Sal was down by the gate, Cirrus was as close as he could be but still inside, and the sheep were resting in the barn.  John had just opened the gate to the geese run but Cirrus didn't notice.   I decided to let Cirrus discover the open gate on his own and just be an observer to the barnyard goings on instead of a participant.  A few sheep came down by the gate and I decided to let them into the area behind the garage/barn to graze.  Sal was still near the gate so the sheep had to maneuver around her.  That was interesting.  Some sheep gave Sal plenty of room, others just took the straight route and Sal had to make some quick moves.  It was all so much easier with one goose in the mix.  I had a story I had to write so I sat in a chair between the gate and the geese run.  At some point Sal went up to the gate in the run and Cirrus saw that he could come out, and did.  The sheep returned to the barn as Sal was walking up that way.  With both geese out, I stayed awhile longer to see if they would go in the barn and harass the sheep.  They didn't so I went back up to the house and fiber shed but stayed in hearing range.  When I peeked a little while later, the geese were resting outside the barn, the sheep inside, and all was calm.  I went back to what I was doing.  Later in the day, I went down to just hangout in the barnyard and sit in the sun.  Cirrus was resting too and Sal was entertaining us.

I am so glad things are working themselves out.  Usually, it just takes me figuring out how to stay out of the way.  I hope tomorrow is as calm as today.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Another Very Enjoyable Day

My friend who came to spin yesterday, went with me to demonstrate spinning at a County Fair in the county south of us.  It rained hard down there this morning before we got there, so things were pretty soggy.    It was a one day small county fair but until last year, the fair organizer told me, they think they hadn't had a county fair in probably 50 years.   So all things considered, I think it was pretty successful.

We were set up next to 2 pigs who were having a splendid time in the rain and mud.  Beyond that were the dairy goats that you could milk or feed.  4H ers and Future Farmers were showing their animals which I think was the main focus of the fair.  Fortunately, there were no rides so everyone was checking out the animals. One day is not enough time to set up rides.

With all the rain and wetness, there weren't too many fair goers in the afternoon but those who did come by were very interested in our spinning.  Some people stayed for quite awhile and my young friend taught at least 3 people how to spin.  I think we both enjoyed "being a part of the change you want to see in the world"…something like that is the bumper sticker you see around.  People need to remember why wool is so important, as much as they need to remember the value of real whole foods over imitation stuff and processed stuff (right Gail?)  What's cool is that people do listen and seem genuinely interested.

What surprises me, is two age and gender groups that seem particularly interested.
In the last five years, doing what I have been doing, I have found that boys between 8 and 12 and men in their mid thirties to mid fifties are fascinated with the whole wool process.

John and I both returned from our different adventures around 5 P.M. and later mentioned that the first thing we did on arriving home was to see where Sal was.  She was standing next to Cyrrus on the inside of the fence, which is great, since the first thing this morning she flew over the fence around their run.  It looks like she followed my instructions not to fly out of the barnyard but maybe she had an enjoyable day flying back and forth and all around.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Goose on the Loose

A friend came over to spin today and as she and her mom and I were talking I heard some squawking and saw a Big blur.  We went to investigate and found Sal walking along the driveway.  She followed me right back to her run and I's mom was quite impressed.  I don't know if Sal really knew what happened. I think she was just flapping around with Cirrus and accidentally went over both fences in one swoop.

When I told John about it, I told him I felt like I just handed over some car keys to a teenager.  Oh Boy. I knew it was coming but I am not ready yet.  Are we ever?  I have decided not to clip wings. The feathers grow back necessitating repeated clipping and when I checked out how to do it, I read that it is a 3 person job and if you are not SUPER careful you can cut the goose and they can bleed to death.

I guess I just have to do all I can do, pray a lot, and have faith.

I still haven't let the geese go in the barn with the sheep resting.  That is the last stage before letting the geese be out all day.  I wish the geese would get over all the teething stuff.  That is what it seems like; everything goes in their mouths.   I was sitting in the barnyard during happy(?) hour, talking to my friend Betty on the phone.  Cirrus came over and chewed on my pants and gnawed on the plastic chair most of the time we were talking.  When one of the sheep wandered near, he would go and harass whoever and then come back and chew on me again.

Tomorrow, I am going to be away most of the day and John will be as well.  I hope Sal doesn't fly the coop then or she will be out alone and distant from the rest of the animals who will be in their run or in the barn resting.  Cirrus, is a little heavier and hasn't taken flight yet.  Maybe, if Sal does fly, she will just go over the run fence and still be in the barnyard where she can go and harass the sheep in the barn.

My friend who was spinning with me today asked if I could put a collar on Sal and do an invisible fence or something like that.  I will have to put my inventor friends to work on that one; electric air space.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Wrong Side of the Fence

Fences are a farmer's best friend and obstacle to get beyond at the same time.  Farm animals are constantly on the wrong side of the fence.  Take yesterday for example.

I have been letting the geese out of their confined area when I can watch them.  The sheep and the geese are not easy going like the sheep and the chickens.  The geese peck at the sheep, which the sheep seem to enjoy up to a point.  But then Cirrus and Sal both gang up on one sheep and peck their ears, nose, legs, and tails all the while squawking loudly.  So I like to arrange get togethers in the morning as the sheep are coming back from the pasture and in the evening when they are getting ready to go out.  Visits in the barn when the sheep want to lay low are not good times.

 Yesterday, I wanted the geese to go out further toward the pasture in the morning but Cirrus wanted to take his morning swim.  If I go out with Sal, Cirrus gets out of the tub and goes to the closest point to us as he can, but inside the fence.  He doesn't know how to go around.  So then I took Sal back to the gate to have Cirrus follow us but this time she goes in the gate and wants to take a swim, so I closed the gate with both inside.  When I went out to where the sheep were, Cirrus and Sal came as close as they could but still on the wrong side of the fence.  Later in the day, I let the geese out and they came down by the barnyard gate where the sheep were.  Charlotte, decided to go into the geese area and see what they had to eat.  I am trying to let the geese know that the sheep are above them in the barnyard hierarchy  and I am the queen so I wanted to give the sheep a treat before I fed the geese and put them in for the night.  Charlotte was on the wrong side of the fence so I had to lead the sheep up to the geese gate so Charlotte would join us.  First though, I had to lead the geese to their pen and close the door (without feeding them) so I could get Charlotte outside the run fence to eat first.  Maybe, I should have let all the sheep in the run area and fed them just outside the pen.

Many would say, I worry too much and I should just let them work it out.  I am, but with supervision.  At first I was standing between them refereeing, now I stand with the sheep trying to get the geese to be nice.  The sheep do head butt the geese but the geese keep coming back for more squawking louder.

I want them to all be on one side of the fence, the right side, together.  I hope that day comes soon.